Bears

Bears eliminate Vikings, will face Eagles in wild card round of NFL playoffs

Bears eliminate Vikings, will face Eagles in wild card round of NFL playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears landed a knockout blow to the Minnesota Vikings with a 24-10 win at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, ensuring they’ll play the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round of the playoffs next weekend. 

Matt Nagy left his starters in for the majority of the game, save for pulling right guard Kyle Long — who came off injured reserve on Saturday — during the second quarter. It wasn’t until the Bears took a two-score lead in the fourth quarter did Nagy pull most of his starters. That decision to keep his best and most important players in the game came even as the Los Angeles Rams cruised past the San Francisco 49ers, eliminating any shot the Bears had at earning a first-round bye. 

So the Bears, in their first playoff appearance in eight years, will face an Eagles team that’s won three games in a row, including two over division winners in the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans. Drawing the defending Super Bowl champions will be a difficult task next weekend — though the status of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who left Philadelphia’s win over Washington with a chest injury, will be worth monitoring this week. 

The Bears didn’t send any signals last week about which team they preferred to face, instead focusing on simply wanting to beat the Vikings and let the playoff picture shake itself out across the NFL Sunday afternoon. 

The Bears smothered the Vikings outside of one penalty-aided drive, with the most notable thing Kirk Cousins did was get in a headed argument with wide receiver Adam Thielen toward the end of the first half. Trubisky was efficient and effective, converting four third downs on a pivotal second half 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Tarik Cohen touchdown and two-point conversion pass to linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. Jordan Howard barreled through a stout Minnesota defense for 109 yards on 21 carries, the second time he’s hit that mark in the last four weeks. 

It was fair for Bears fans to hope to play the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, given the Vikings aren’t actually all that good. But that’s also why the Vikings won’t be the Bears’ opponent — they’re just not that good of a team. The Bears looked like the team with something to play for while the Vikings lethargically went through the motions, never looking fit for a spot in the playoffs. 

Perhaps the most indicative sign of that feeling: The Vikings, after the Bears took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, went four-and-out against a Bears defense that pulled Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks from the game for that series. They did the same thing on their next drive. 

More importantly: The Bears move on to the playoffs having won nine of their last 10 games. They haven’t lost with Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback since mid-October. This is a defense playing at the top of its game that very well could get safety Eddie Jackson back for the playoffs. They’ve won 12 games, the most this franchise has had since reaching the Super Bowl back in 2006. 

There’s a legitimate argument to be made the Bears are the hottest team in the NFC right now. 

But if they’re not, that team is the Eagles.

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan are back with their training camp preview of the Bears' defense, looking at if it's fair to expect this group to take a step back without Vic Fangio (2:00) or if it's possible to repeat as the league's No. 1 defense (10:00). Plus, the guys look at which players the Bears need to improve to remain one of the NFL's best defenses (15:15), debate if Leonard Floyd can be better (20:00) and look at the future of the defense as a salary cap crunch looms after 2019 (25:00). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

NFL.com apparently thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

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USA Today

NFL.com apparently thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

NFL.com recently ranked all of the league's head coaches, because the football season may end but creating content never will. 

The top tier consists of all the usual suspects ... except for the guy that literally won the league's award for best coach last season

Matt Nagy came in at 14 on this list, and not even the highest-ranked NFC North coach. The reasoning is a tad suspect; here's what they had to say

Matt Nagy more than delivered in his first year as the Bears' head coach, taking Chicago to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season. What's interesting about Nagy is that his side of the ball is offense, and prior to getting hired by the Bears, he was known for his work with quarterbacks in Kansas City. Yet, it was Vic Fangio's defense that did most of the heavy lifting to get Chicago to the playoffs. A head coach does much more than run one side of the ball, though. In fact, some of them don't do that at all. They run the office, in some respects. Nagy clearly set a tone in the building, so to speak, which should not be taken lightly. Nor should Nagy's work with Mitch Trubisky, who showed improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. Why is Reich ahead of Rivera but not Nagy? Well, Nagy has yet to achieve postseason success and had stronger personnel than Reich did in 2018.

Is this fair? Probably not! But is this important? Definitely not! Still - give your incumbent COY some more love, NFL. Club Dub! Yelling boom! The visors!